3 Reasons An Unpaid Internship Is Worth Your Time
In general, college students are pretty poor. Living off of the least expensive noodle dishes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the occasional pizza is not uncommon. Because of that, when you are looking for an internship, it might be tempting to turn down an unpaid one in hopes of getting a paid internship offer. Before deciding against an unpaid internship, remember there are things to be gained even if you are unpaid.
One of the first things you will gain whether working as a paid or unpaid intern, is the experience. Generally, if you are completing a college internship, you are working in the field where you hope to get a job after graduation. It might not be the exact job you want, but getting an internship will allow you to get a real-world feel for what will be expected of you after college graduation. If you have a diverse degree, you may even want to complete two or more internships before or directly after graduation. To get a feel for the whole field, you may have to do at least one of these internships in an unpaid position. The experience you will gain through an unpaid internship will better prepare you for your future career and will look great on a résumé.
A second thing you might want to consider before deciding an unpaid internship is not for you is the networking experience you can gain through your internship. An internship gives you a whole group of people who work in a similar environment to the one you are seeking. These are often people you can turn to for advice on getting a job as well as being able to act as your references for future work. Also, many companies are more likely to hire previous interns when looking to fill entry level positions. If you want to work for a specific company, you may have to do your time as an unpaid intern.
A third reason to consider an unpaid internship is the level of dedication you must put in for an unpaid internship. Whether you are looking to continue working for that company or you are looking to work for another company upon graduation, the fact that you were willing to work simply for the experience (and maybe for school credit) shows you are serious about working in that field.
Not getting paid for the work you are doing is never preferable, but keep your eye on the big picture because that unpaid internship could pay off big in the future.